Where are we going, and how are we going to get there?
Sometimes the toughest part of my job is deciding what to teach next. It’s a matter of balancing what you need, what you will think is interesting (so you’ll stay motivated), and having personal enjoyment out of my day, too. I know that’s selfish of me, but trust me, if I’m happy, we’re all happy.
Many of you asked what our next unit was going to be. Let me tell you that question both enchanted and terrified me. How awesome it is that you want to know! How horrible it might be if I don’t come up with something really amazing, entertaining, and captivating! (Cue Mrs. L screaming and laughing hysterically at the same time…)
So, I am still struggling with “less is more.” (That is a paradox. We will be reviewing figurative language and its importance next week, and adding some new figurative language terms to your knowledge bag.)
Less is more means if we focus closely on one thing at a time, we get more out of it in the long run. So, in theory, spending a few weeks on the Journey of the Hero helps us go deeper with our understanding, and we can take that learning with us for the rest of our lives.
Let me just say a few things about that unit: there were huge successes, and one big failure. The failure, an “epic fail,” if you will, was that many of you did not even read one book for the unit. Your spotty attendance, lack of interest, or struggling with reading, all got in your, and my, way. Remember, the first and most important rule in my class is to never read something because I tell you to. You must identify your purpose for reading, think about the big questions, and read. It’s just that simple. Your purpose for reading during this past Journey of the Hero/Transformation of the Hero unit was to witness a character going through changes, making choices, and changing from the beginning of the story to the end.
You may need to make some brave changes yourself.
The huge successes were that many of you totally, absolutely, got it, and proved it in your essays. (Which I will finish grading once I’m done blogging — a girl’s got to have her priorities, you know.)
Your writing was spectacular. I know I pushed: I left some of the thinking/questions open-ended, more vague, but you really stepped up and demonstrated that you can think for yourself, you can feel uncomfortable and still take a risk. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
The student behaviors that you should value are asking questions, demanding to know why, and not accepting anything less than my best effort, or yours.
So, for this next unit, and units from now on, you will be given more time to read in class. I don’t know why I keep having to learn that lesson repeatedly, but I do. Now, many of you not only read one book, you read several. But for me, it’s not the quantity that matters but the understanding you take away. (Although the more you read, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the better you learn how to learn…huh?)
Here’s a preview of what’s next:
*Figurative Language: understanding the powerful uses of figurative language in your reading and writing is one of the best tools you can master. Figurative language is the language of poets, thinkers, artists, and communicators of all stripes and polka-dots: it includes metaphors, similes, euphemisms, paradoxes, alliterations, personification, idioms, cliches, analogies, allegories, oxymoron and my all-time comic book favorite, onomatopoeia:
*Context Clues: Context clues are specifically about understanding and widening your vocabulary. Here’s the idea: You know words. But you need to know more. If you know more, your ability to read faster and understand more of what you read increases: